The courier driver industry has become a lucrative option for many recently due to the upsurge in demand for home delivery services. In 2020, the estimated revenue of the courier industry was £19.6 billion. It is a fast-paced career with the potential to be self-employed or work for a company. As specialist providers of both courier car insurance and courier van insurance, we have put together this informative guide on how to become a courier driver in the UK.
How much do courier drivers earn?
Annual salary ranges vary depending on the amount of work you undertake and the industry that you work in. How much you can earn also depends on your experience. The GOV.UK website states the average salary for a freelance courier driver in the UK is £14,500 for beginners while more experienced drivers can earn up to £40,000 a year based on a 44 to 46-hour work week. Totaljobs.com has the figure for beginners at £25,000 while Reed.co.uk has the average salary for UK courier drivers as £46,207*.
How to get started as a courier driver
Firstly, you need to decide as a courier driver whether to work for yourself or for a company. As a freelance delivery driver, you can use your own vehicle to make deliveries and control your own schedule and workload. Most companies will offer a lease vehicle with insurance built in, but you may find it is a very expensive option and want to source your own vehicle and courier car or courier van insurance. As a self-employed courier you have the freedom to be your own boss. This means you can choose:
- The types of work you want to do, such as which industry and types of deliveries
- Your own working hours including days, nights, weekends, and Bank Holidays
Secondly, you could try a trial period before making any major business decisions. Before you lease a larger vehicle, make sure that you can secure suitable vehicle storage and that this is cost-effective. The different industries you can secure work from include:
- Transport and logistics
- Administration and secretarial
- Customer services
- Other (including Multi-drop drivers)
Salary ranges can vary from industry to industry. Carrying out plenty of research beforehand can help you to gain a greater understanding and help you make an informed decision on your earning potential.
What skills are required for courier driver success
Other than the ability to drive, to be successful as a courier driver you will need to possess the following:
- Physical fitness – heavy items will require you to be fit enough to handle them with care
- Customer service – smiling, maintaining eye contact, and leaving a lasting impression
- Time management – the ability to work smart and get more done in less time
- Record keeping – keep full, clear and accurate records of invoices, deliveries, signatures etc
If you are at beginners’ level, you will build up the necessary experience over time. If you know anyone in the industry, ask them what best practices they follow when doing the job. The insight of your fellow courier drivers could benefit you greatly.
Full UK Driving licence
There are no formal qualifications required to become a courier driver. Your full UK driving licence is the key to unlocking your earning potential. Preferably, you will not have any points on your licence as this could help towards keeping costs down on your car or van courier insurance. Some companies also like their drivers to be over 25 years old for insurance purposes, so if you are below this age, be sure to double check before accepting any work from them.
Courier car or courier van: The choice is yours
Initially, providing it is fit for purpose, you could use the vehicle you currently own before committing to a larger vehicle. Get a feel for the pace, demand, and variety of work available and assess whether a larger vehicle could unlock further earning potential. A larger vehicle means larger loads with the capacity to travel further. It will also mean more fuel consumption and a greater reliance on SatNav to get around. The most important thing is that your vehicle is reliable, and you can reach distant locations in the UK with confidence.
Courier tech essentials:
A desktop, laptop, or tablet is a handy addition to your business. This will help you to keep accurate daily records and accounts. If you branch out, you can also consider establishing and updating your own website. The main advantage of a desktop or laptop computer is that you can use the device to send invoices to companies you delivered on behalf of quickly and securely. Tablets and mobile phones often support this, but connectivity and battery issues can make this a less attractive option.
From a business standpoint a separate mobile phone is best for business use. If you are self-employed you can see full guidance on claiming expenses like mobile phones on the GOV.UK website. Secure a contract that includes unlimited calls and data per month. This will cover you for all business needs. A high-resolution camera that verifies delivery is also a necessity.
Company issue electronics
You could be issued an electronic handset, scanner, or mobile phone preloaded with apps by companies you work for. Make sure to take care of electronic devices issued to you as damaged or lost units could result in financial penalties.
Courier expenses: Fuelling your potential
A vital consideration for any courier driver is fuel consumption. Your courier business will not be able to operate without fuel, and prices may vary from location to location. You could find yourself travelling great distances for deliveries. Therefore, it is always useful to:
- Ensure you have enough fuel to complete your journey without the necessity to locate and refuel in unfamiliar surroundings.
- Make sure you incorporate the price of fuel into your delivery charges to make sure you are not out of pocket. For further savings, consider using a diesel vehicle as this will provide greater fuel efficiency if you regularly need to drive long distances.
- Drive slower and reduce acceleration where possible. This could provide up to 35% better fuel efficiency.
- Use the PetrolPrices app to regularly check the prices of fuel in your area.
- Utilise loyalty cards at petrol stations to keep overheads down and maximise your earnings.
Make sure to tell HMRC
As soon as you become self-employed it is important to inform HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for tax purposes. When working for yourself, you are classed as a sole trader. It is possible to be both employed and self-employed at the same time. You may work as a courier part time initially as a trial or to supplement another source of income. Full guidance on this can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Securing your first courier driver job
Try to advertise your services as much as possible. This can be as simple or as comprehensive as you like. From a simple advert in the local paper or flyer campaign to setting up a website and social media platform. Be sure to approach local businesses to make them aware of your services. This will also give you greater knowledge of your competitors pricing. Make sure to register with online business directories such as Yell, Thomson, and Yelp and encourage your customers to leave user reviews on sites such as Trustpilot to greater improve your visibility and potential client base.
You could approach companies that sub-contract delivery work to local couriers. The surplus of work will be a vital source of income when you first start out. Reputable companies require freelance couriers every day to help them distribute their deliveries on time. If you are reliable, these businesses are more likely to call on you in the future, securing a steady stream of income whilst you cement your client base. The companies you could look to contact to enquire about delivery work include:
Courier Insurance: Important Requirements
It is very important before doing any courier work that you make sure you are sufficiently covered. Depending on the type of work you will be doing you will have to make sure you are covered for:
- Public liability insurance
- Hire and reward
If you work for a company, there may be additional requirements on policy coverage before you can accept work securely. For example, some companies will require and dictate the value of goods in transit coverage. Make sure you speak to your operator before accepting employment and purchase the necessary cover to perform your duties. You may also be required to provide certificates to verify that coverage is valid**.
Where can I buy courier driver insurance?
With over 40 years’ experience in this industry, we help drivers that might be classed as a ‘higher risk’ find competitive courier insurance. For an instant online quote for courier driver insurance, click here for courier car insurance or here for courier van insurance.
* All figures sourced 09/02/21 and may be subject to change
** Please note that this does not include goods in transit cover
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